“Unsung Heroes” selected as Grand Marshals of 2018 Pride Parade: Their Stories of Courage HerePosted on: June 9, 2018, by : Trevor Potts
By Trevor Potts
As Indianapolis prepares in excitement for today’s 2018 Pride Parade and Pride Festival at Military Park, five Hoosiers’ stories of courage and heroism deserve the spotlight — and fittingly, these five “Unsung Heroes” of Indiana’s LGBTQ+ movement have been selected as Grand Marshals of this year’s parade. Each of these tireless advocates has their own story to tell, and include Mark A. Lee, Findley Carter Norris, Margaret Irish, Terrell Parker and “Project Hud;Son”, a support organization committed to bringing awareness of mental health, bullying, self-harm and suicide issues.
While the stories of each of this year’s Grand Marshals deserve greater attention, we wanted to highlight some of the achievements of these “Unsung Heroes” here:
Mark Alan Lee is an Indianapolis-based photographer who has been capturing images of the LGBTQ+ community and recording its visual history for over 30 years. A display of his work, “A Visual Journey: From AIDS to Marriage Equality,” is currently touring the state through the Indiana Historical Society. Mark has spent the last four years on behalf of the Historical Society conducting interviews around the entire state, “so future generations will have a much better understanding of what it means to be gay, lesbian or transgender in Indiana” during this period of the state and nation’s history.
On being selected one of this year’s Unsung Heroes and Grand Marshals for the 2018 Pride Parade, Mark reflects, “I was both surprised and deeply humbled to be named one of five Grand Marshals for this year’s Pride Parade! It validates the work I’ve done, both as a photographer, and as a historian. As a photographer I’ve had a bird’s eye view of how our community has grown in the last 30-some years. One of the absolute most joyous occasions I ever had an opportunity to document was during the two and a half day window of time when over 600 couples were able to legally wed. It was something I never thought I would have a chance to see in my lifetime.
As a historian, I have heard some AMAZING stories over the course of the last 4 years. We have gone from cruising the circle in Indianapolis, or hiding out in the restrooms in the basement of the court house in Fort Wayne, to where we are today. We still have a long way to go, especially in regards to the transgender community and the way they are used as a political pawn, but I have faith our community will continue to move gayly forward!”
The other four Grand Marshals of this year’s Pride Parade are equally heroic, each in their own way, and their stories deserve to be told.
Findley Carter Norris is a non-binary artist and activist living in Bloomington, whose artwork has been centered around issues of dysphoria and becoming comfortable in one’s own body. Findley (who uses they/them pronouns) legally changed their name and gender marker in December, 2017, becoming the first non-binary individual in the state of Indiana — and the third in the United States — to have their gender officially recognized on their birth certificate. Findley graduated from Ball State University in May, 2017 with a BFA in drawing.
Margaret Irish has been a devoted community leader and volunteer since the early 1990s, when her son, David, was a client with The Damien Center. When David passed in March 1992, Margaret wanted to do something to continue the work he did for “the cause,” and decided to volunteer for Indiana Cares for 8-9 years, delivering meals to clients who were ill. The Damien Center took over the Indiana Cares program after a couple of years, and Margaret continued contributing. Margaret also volunteered at Parkview Nursing Center, driving clients to and from doctor appointments and the hospital. Irish’s life and legacy is the very definition of service to humanity.
Terrell Parker is a 29-year-old “proud gay Black man” born and raised in Indianapolis whose personal mission in life is to “build an inclusive, self-sustained Black community through education, health and economic empowerment.” As “linkage to care specialist” and Program Director for Brothers United, a community-based AIDS service organization serving Central Indiana’s Black LGBTQ+ community, Terrell has helped to successfully pilot a city-wide program connecting people living with HIV to medical and and supportive services. The program he piloted has been nationally recognized and now serves as a “best practice” model for conducting linkage to care in communities of color.
The final selection for Grand Marshal of this year’s Pride Parade is “Project Hud;Son”, an organization which provides support and resources to help educate parents, children and communities toward bringing awareness of mental health, bullying, self-harm and suicide issues. Project Hud;Son is done in memory of the founders’ son, Hudson Wesley Scott, who was lost at the age of 14 to depression and suicide. The organization is a 501c3 nonprofit made up of parents and advocates who have been touched by suicide, and who want to build a support system to help prevent others from ending their own lives. For more information on this worthy organization, visit https://www.projecthudson.org/
It has been said that a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. This year’s “Unsung Heroes” of the 2018 Pride Parade are the definition of such courage, and deserve the Grand Marshal honor and more.